What you need to know about Tommy Joseph

The key piece in the deal that sent Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants is 21-year old catcher Tommy Joseph. With a lot of work, Joseph has become a strong defensive catcher and has legitimate power potential.

The deal with San Francisco for outfielder Hunter Pence is interesting and it brings a young catching prospect into the organization in Tommy Joseph. Joseph came into the season as the Giants number two prospect right behind outfielder Gary Brown, who the Phillies were asking for in the deal, but were told is off limits. The Giants avoided giving up Brown last season when they acquired Carlos Beltran and they weren't going to include him in a deal for Pence.

When he was initially drafted in 2009, Joseph was one of the better ranked power prospects in the draft, but his defense behind the plate was suspect. Because of that defensive flaw, the Giants tried Joseph at first base, but didn't give up on him as a catcher. To his credit, Joseph put in a lot of hard work and dramatically improved both his offense and defense in 2011. In just his second professional season, Joseph threw out 37% of the runners who attempted to run against him and he became much better at blocking balls in the dirt. Some scouts believe that he can still improve on his throwing mechanics and could become top-notch at keeping runners from advancing.

Joseph has seen his power numbers drop from one home run every 23 at-bats last season down to one in every 38 at-bats this season, but he was also making what is thought to be the toughest jump in baseball, going from High-A to Double-A ball and there are a lot of players who struggle making that jump. The good ones make adjustments and rediscover their power, the others simply become hitters with basic power numbers. It looks like Joseph will be one of the true power types that make the adjustments, since half of his home runs this season have come in the month of July when he has also knocked in 21 of his 38 RBI.

It will be interesting to see just where the Phillies officially place Joseph. They've already got Sebastian Valle at Double-A Reading and Erik Kratz will likely be returning to Lehigh Valley from Philadelphia before long with Brian Schneider coming off the DL. It's not likely that the Phillies will move Joseph back to first base, but if they do, Darin Ruf is at Reading and Cody Overbeck holds the spot with the IronPigs, so there would be some tough decisions there, too.

Tommy Joseph's career stats

2010Augusta (A)11743646103221166826116.236.290.401
2011San Jose (A+)12751480139332229529102.270.317.471
2012Richmond (AA)8030432791608382564.260.313.391
3 Seasons32412541583217134620180282.256.307.427
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/31/2012.

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